Giving cash to black ministers and other influential members of the black community is a time-honored tradition among Democrats–particularly white Democrats with black opposition in a party primary. Remember that one reason S.C. has open voter registration (no party affiliation) is because of the ways white Democrats used the primary election system to block black candidates.
How common is “street money,” as it’s also known? Rusty DePass, former member of the S.C. Election Commission tells the story of voters at one majority black polling place being given $5 for showing up to vote, then being greeted by a vendor selling sandwiches and bottles of liquor priced at exactly the same amount.
The Election Commission got a complaint, not from an outraged defender of political ethics, but a disgruntled black voter who claimed he’d been promised MORE MONEY.
Meanwhile, the “legal” street money is flowing, too. State Sen. Darrell Jackson, a black legislator who also happens to be political/pr guy in the black community, received a $210,000 contract from the Clintons for this election cycle after putting his services up for bid.
Given her dismal performance tonight, however, it appears he was wildly overpaid.
My favorite S.C. street money story, is about Dick Harpootlian. He’s an Obama guy now and former chair of the Democratic party, but he’s also been a candidate in the past. His most famous quip about being a white Democrat running for office in South Carolina is “I don’t want to buy the black vote, I just want to rent it for a day.”